DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to Dick Wolf and NBC/Universal, and probably some other people, of whom I am not one.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: "Loss" (5.4), "Ghost" (6.16)
Six Ways To Miss Your Lover
1. Slow raindrops carved the gates of their sorrow, rain and misery mingling and trickling until Alex, shoulders narrowed and pressed between the curving wall and Agent Something-or-Other, looking through the double-thick plastic of the airplane window, thought pathetic fallacy and smiled in spite of herself. The rain traced halting dribbles across her view of the tarmac, the gates, the planes, and she was grateful for the painkillers, for the dullness, thinking of Olivia, thinking of what an idiot she felt like when Olivia had said, shyly, that she liked Eliot, liked his melancholy, his longing. Alex had thought, for a moment, that Olivia was talking about her partner.
"I didn't peg you as a poetry person," she'd said, because it was all she'd been able to think of out loud (what the hell kind of cop likes poetry/you're the saddest person I've ever met/I wish there was some way I could fix you) and Olivia had just shrugged, in a way that didn't reveal whether or not she was offended, and had smiled, carefully, and when she kissed her, her lips cool and quivering, Alex had startled herself by thinking: the moment in and out of time.
2. Going forward three months from that, there is also the time that Olivia whispered, "Got a visual!" into her wrist and Munch looked out from the squad car and said, "All right, Olivia, copy that."
She wasn't sure how it happened, exactly, except that it was like every other goddamn foot chase. He saw her, maybe, in a plate glass window and bolted, and suddenly she was barreling down Mott Street, dodging vendors of knockoff purses (got to get someone on that, she thought, as she leapt nimbly over a faux Birkin bag lying on the sidewalk), weaving among the suits and the children and the tourists, yelling "Police! NYPD!"
Lungs burning, she neared him as he rounded the corner, huffing "East on Canal!" into her mic, heard sirens, and as she swung around the corner, there she was, across the street: tall and painfully slender, chin up, hair long and blond and shining in the morning sun, light glinting off her glasses, stepping in heels along the sidewalk with that quick, graceful gait, and Olivia's feet put roots into the cracks in the pavement. She couldn't run, couldn't breathe, couldn't push her heart back into her chest, couldn't think do your job, dumbfuck, he's getting away.
The woman turned to inspect a table of jewelry, hints followed by guesses, and everything was so right so right so right, except no, those weren't her cheekbones, weren't her lips.
Munch and Fin stepped out of the alley with the collar; Olivia hadn't even seen them pull in. Fin gave her a hard look, because she hadn't moved a step, was standing there chest heaving, eyes wide, and Munch waved him toward the car, stepped over. "Olivia," he said, quietly, and sounded concerned. "What" and then he followed her eyes across the street.
He was silent for a moment, then squeezed her arm, very gently. "It's not her," he said.
I know I know I fucking know that. She swallowed. "Uh, look, I'm really sorry "
"Hey," he said. "We got it, okay?"
"Yeah," she whispered, and thought too long, Benson, it's been too long, you need to get over it. People change, and smile, she thought Alex might once have said: but the agony abides, and Olivia looked at the other woman's graceful neck and long legs and bright hair and ached.
3. "I don't know what you see in me, Em," he said, breathlessly, and she managed not to roll her eyes. "I mean, you're just, you're gorgeous." His breath tickled her neck, and he smelled wrong; the crook of his elbow was in the wrong spot, and his chest was too hard, too flat.
"I," she said. "I like your eyes." And she did: they were brown and warm and faintly reminiscent of hers. Alex had stopped thinking her name on the flight to the Midwest, forced herself to stop remembering, to try to gain a moment's peace in oblivion.
Pressed against this man with the kind, open brown eyes, the trembling, gentle hands, though, all she could remember was the surety of another set of hands, the frustrating, delicious, puzzling, utterly fascinating way the other brown eyes had closed off, had sparked and flared, very rarely, with something resembling affection, maybe something more.
"Em?" he asked, gently, wonderingly, and she sighed and smiled the half-smile that was enough for him and thought: for most of us there is only the distraction fit.
4. With a movement of darkness on darkness Alex was over her, her hair shining pale and ethereal in the faint light from the window. Olivia couldn't breathe.
"I don't know," she said, weakly, "I don't know whether this is a good idea, considering."
"One night," Alex whispered. "I'll never forgive myself."
Instead of trying to come up with a way to answer her, Olivia let Alex kiss her, and the touch of her lips burned enough to blot out thoughts of claims adjusters and federal agents and drug cartels and everything else that had ever existed in the world but this woman, this woman, and the unbearable yearning of every inch of her skin.
5. Staring at the blank wall opposite her bed, which was the same wall but not the same wall as the one in Wisconsin and the other one in Arizona and the other one in Ohio and the other one in Maryland, she thought maybe her mind was playing tricks on her. Things seemed to reinvent themselves, and she kept going back to the verdict, to the word guilty, which seemed to apply, sometimes, more to her than to her murderer, to the rush of relief that didn't solve a damn thing and wasn't really worth it anyway.
It was Olivia behind her, and she could feel her eyes on her, could hear her exhaled breath afterwards. But she couldn't remember: did Olivia actually touch her neck, or didn't she? Did her fingers graze lightly against her hair, or did she restrain herself? Did she touch her, one last time?
Alex stared at the wall: she touched me. Shifted her gaze, stared at the ceiling: she touched me not. The memory of the gesture taunted her, slipped in and out of fantasy and reality, between the possibility that Olivia felt it too and the likelihood that she hadn't, between her blessing and her curse: not farewell, but fare forward.
6. The archivist looked at her with something that might have been pity and handed her the tapes, and Olivia didn't really care much about the expression in her eyes, just took them and flashed her a halfhearted smile and thanked her with a gratitude she hadn't been expecting to feel quite so intensely.
Back in her apartment, she shoved the first tape, savagely, into her VCR and watched Alex, a bit grainy, standing on the steps of the courthouse: her first press appearance with SVU. The wind was whipping her short hair behind her, blowing her scarf in her face, and Olivia remembered the day: cold, bitter. Alex's face was set as she talked: " no prosecutor relishes the imposition of the death penalty, but given the horrific nature of the crime" and her voice was strong but Olivia could see the pull at her mouth that she had discovered, later, meant excitement and apprehension and nerves and a million other things Alex never, ever spoke.
And there she was, in front of her again, in her apartment again, her precise voice with its utterly endearing professionalism and its careful consideration, but it was all a trick, a trick, just another image, two-dimensional. What you thought you came for, she thought suddenly, is only a shell, and she sat mute and still and watched the sad composite of Alex's hair and scarf and voice and mouth as, tumbling, they unraveled on a fleeting reel.
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